Throwback to My Dinner at Fouj Cafe
A Snapchat Story
By Ms. Hala
Here’s a throwback to my last few weeks in Qatar when I got to dine at Fouj Cafe on Grand Hamad Street (aka Bank Street), in Doha. My favorite, of course, was their take on the Qatari dish, chicken majboos.
I appreciate their gourmet take on the local cuisine without sacrificing on flavor. The chicken was fall off the bone tender and I was surprised I had a picture of it as it seems to have not made it to the video above. Oops! It’s seriously one of those dishes you almost can’t get enough of and can smell it whenever you crave it and right now, I’m having massive cravings!
They are well known for their deserts, with a wide selection as well as custom-made cakes, including tiered wedding cakes. I thought the one they had on display then was quite impressive. Their take on tiramisu that I had was so filling, I ate it slowly for three days, literally! I had to share the goodie bag with friends as it was much and I was moving out of the apartment. I can say though that nothing was left after about 20 minutes.
Shout out to the Fouj Cafe team for making my last few weeks in Qatar a delicious one!
Throwback Thursday to accidentally on purpose finding sweetness at a classic spot in Burlingame. Royal Donut has been around longer than many of the eateries on famed Burlingame Avenue. Grab yourself a chocolate old-fashioned today!
Every month, bloggers across Qatar come together for what’s called #QatarLinkUp. This is a fantastic way for bloggers to write about a particular theme, read and share each other’s posts on the theme. This month’s theme is, “My Favorite Restaurant in Doha.” My first blog for the link up and I’m already struggling. How can I pick just one? Have you met me? I’m always hungry!
Since I’m an equal opportunity foodie, I decided to go through my Zomato collections and randomly pick a few restaurants to showcase. They are in no particular order other than being under the collection I have them in. Here’s a sampling of what makes Doha the great gastronomic city that it is.
IDAM by Alan Ducasse is literally the most luxurious dining experience you will have in Qatar. On the fifth floor of the Museum of Islamic Art, the architecture, the view, the decor, the service and of course, the fusion of French and Qatari cuisine is an experience to be had at least twice in Doha. And any place that has me craving snails, has done something right!
However, when we aren’t spending up to 1,000QR ($275) on a meal, there are a plenty good casual spots I enjoy going to on a regular basis. For Italian, try Papermoon and go for the truffle ravioli. For Indian, Caravan Bukhara has some delicious curry dishes. For Egyptian, Layali Al Qahira always hits the spot for me.
Just want the basics? Flavorful sandwiches, salads and good coffee can be found at Monte’s or Shades Cafe in West Bay. For the best hazelnut chai latte in all of Qatar, the drive to Coffee Time in Wakrah is totally worth it. On the other side in Al Rayyan? Al Shafi Street has you covered and is accessible despite all the Metro construction happening.
Hungry yet? I promise there’s more! *sips coffee and types faster*
Places like Gokul Gujarati and Thai Corner make you not only appreciate the diversity of cuisines in Doha, but the hidden gems throughout the city.
Seriously, who would’ve thought that a thali of vegetarian dishes can be so drool worthy. Or that delivery/take out from a store front in a plaza parking lot would be delicious and sufficient. Seriously, don’t ever doubt the small guys!
Qatar has an abundance of dessert shops with the perfect recipes for that sweet tooth of yours. From the ones that remind me of visiting family in New York to the innovative Qatari start ups, you really can’t go wrong here. Magnolia Bakery of New York has some great selections of cakes and cupcakes, especially in the fall when pumpkin pie is in season.
For the popcorn lovers, you will get addicted to Let’s Popcorn! My favorite from the shop has to be the Oreos flavored popcorn. Also try the caramel or even the nacho’s if you are keen on the spicy side of things. Again, it’s very addictive, you’ve been warned!
Hungry yet? I sure am! Then again, I’m always hungry!
The event took place at the Four Season’s Il Teatro, currently run by Chef Marco Arlotti. Since this was my first experience at Four Seasons all together, I was extremely excited! For only 150QR, we indulged in a 5 course meal, a chance to interact with amazing food bloggers and left with a goodie bag worth over 200QR! Kudos Doaa for a fabulous and well organized event. With her blessings, here is my take on the evening.
FOOD BLOGGERS QATAR MEETUP
The idea to hold the first Food Bloggers Meetup at a location as grand as the Four Seasons, right off of Diplomatic Road in Doha, was very smart. Free valet parking, helpful, smiling staff and a calm atmosphere on a Saturday evening was a great way to get you in the mood to mingle and eat!
We had a lovely indoor, quite intimate, set up arranged just for our large group. Our hostess encouraged us to change seats and interact with one another. Throughout the evening, individuals introduced themselves, their work and why they do what they do. Amongst us were chefs, bakers and simple food lovers like myself. Despite the love of food that brought us together that evening, everyone was unique and different in their approach and expression of this love.
And if you were a fan of one’s work, it was wonderful to put a face to the name. The highlight of my evening was not only meeting those I was already a fan of, but discovering those I should be a fan of!
For example, I meet for the first time Zomato‘s Country Manager, Haytham Bennani whom encouraged our work in support of bringing forth the best eateries to the spot light. We had a very interesting conversation about the our individual work and he gave me a few tips to continue ranting away on my love for food. I am now a fan!
Of course, when food is good, it’s always a delight to meet the chef! Chef Arlotti spoke to us about his work in Italy before moving to Doha just a few months prior. Despite his young age, the man has year, I mean years of experience and ideas galore to present to the table. I look forward to tasting more of what he has to offer.
Overall, the event was a huge success! We were a full house of happily stuffed people already discussing when the next meetup would take place. Doaa has her plates set! Additionally, I’d like to thank Four Seasons for adding to our goodie bag the beautiful journal. I’ve decided to use it to outline my “I’m Always Hungry” rants!
“How have I not come here before?” was the question that swam through my head from the moment I walked in to the moment I walked out of Il Teatro.
The décor was elegant yet simple, the staff were welcoming, the lighting was deem, creating a calm atmosphere. Even though the lighting may not necessarily have been great for photography (which should explain the photo quality of some images here), maybe that was the catch. More focus on the experience rather than the need to Instagram your meal?
The set menu provided to us made it seem that we’d be treated to a 4 course meal and because the words “lasagna” and “spring chicken” made my eyes sparkle, I assumed, small portions to taste everything. I was wrong, oh so wrong!
We were surprised by a soft crab amuse bouche of sorts as a treat. If you know me, you know I don’t do crab, I just don’t. When it comes to shell fish, I prefer lobster and shrimp.
However, since it was a first time for everything, I thought to myself, “after oh so many years of not touching crab, tonight was the night.” This crab was not only indeed softer than I’d expect but very flavorful, cooked to perfection, decadent to be exact. I couldn’t believe I finished that plate.
Then the originally set menu began with seared scallops garnished with caviar. The presentation was mixed. My plate came as if it had almost fallen from the poor waiter’s hands while others plates looked exceptionally beautiful. Of course the photo on my Instagram was not of my plate but it was too pretty to not steal a snapshot of.
The caviar complementing the scallops made my messy plate worth while. I highly recommend this appetizer.
Yes, entrees with an “s”, plural because we were given two dishes not two options as I had originally thought. Can you imagine my excitement? We were served lasagna with parmesan sauce and spring chicken breast, roasted with light gravy and asparagus.
The lasagna was an average sized circular cut portion that needed a bit of salt and pepper. However, it was absolutely delicious. So delicious, for a moment all you heard across the room were the forks against the plates as it picked up pieces of this deliciousness into the silent salivating mouths. It’s that type of silence that let’s you know something is oh so good!
So good, when the chicken arrived, everyone looked around wondering, “is it wrong to be full already?” Of course, my hungry self had to go for it and it was simply divine. The chicken was tender, the gravy was just right for the portion that was just as large as the lasagna. I tried my best, trust me, to finish the tender chicken. I took a bite, had a sip of my specially made pineapple free mocktail, waited, talked, waited, laughed then repeated the steps. I’ve never been so upset for food being taken away from in front of me like I was with this chicken.
How something as simple as lasagna and chicken can take over one’s senses is simply beyond me. Hat’s off to Chef Marco!
Tiramisu. I’ve had such bad experiences with this complex dessert. Some are too bitter. Some are too sweet for my sweet tooth. Some simply don’t deserve the name all together!
Il Teatro, by far, served the best tiramisu I’ve ever had in Doha… in Qatar… in this part of the world! It seriously tops my list of the best tiramisus I’ve ever had! I couldn’t stop ranting all night at how great this tiramisu is. If we made comments here and there about anything that was served to us that night, we all unanimously agreed the tiramisu was a hit!
Plated in a large martini glass, topped with an eatable salute to Food Bloggers Qatar & the Four Seasons, this tiramisu was extremely light, fluffy and I’m assuming had a lovely hint of nutmeg.
If you have anything at Il Teatro, anything at all, have the tiramisu! This glass of goodness can seriously turn any long day into the best day ever.
Food Bloggers Qatar Meetup = Fantastic, well organized and just plain fun!
Four Seasons Hotel = Wonderful, just wonderful!
Il Teatro = Delicious! It’s seriously very rare in Doha do you come across a restaurant in a 5 star hotel that actually doesn’t let you leave hungry! Hopefully that wasn’t just for the event but I’ll have to find that out for myself on my next visit… coming soon! 😉
Roger’s Diner New Menu Taste Testing Event January 11, 2015
If you follow me on either Instagram, Twitter, FourSquare or Facebook (of course you do!), then you’ve noticed my many checked ins and pictures of our great eats at Roger’s Diner, located on C-Ring, between AlSadd and AlRayyan Road in Doha. My co-workers and I loved the business lunch deal, where you get an appetizer, entree and dessert for only 55QR from 12-3pm.
So when Roger’s Diner invited me along with 3 friends to taste test the new menu on the evening of January 11th, I couldn’t say “no”! My co-workers Sahar and Adel were excited about the invitation and to be able to introduce this amazing place to our friend Dana and our new colleague, Ahmed, whom just landed in Qatar a few months ago. Roger’s was kind enough to stretch our invitation an extra seat so that our two newbies can taste why Roger’s is one of our favorite lunch spots.
The entire restaurant was reserved for just the invitees of the new menu taste testers that evening. It made me feel very VIP if you ask me. It surely impressed our group as we walked in, welcomed and our verbal note of an invitation honored.
Roger’s maintains a classic American aviation theme with a large plane propeller and a wide flight wings as decor. From the cushioned booths to the table settings to the menu design, the theme is through out while maintaining the look and feel of a legit American diner. Large TVs are propped throughout the restaurant usually planing an American movie or a soccer (keeping it American) game with popular American 90s music playing in the background.
In all honesty, I always feel like I’m in a diner back home in the States on any given day.
Roger’s previous menu was fairly simply, give or take 5 different kinds of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, pastas and desserts. This new menu has much more options plus the originals still intact which I was so glad to see.
It only made sense for us to order as we usually do: an appetizer, entree and dessert. After asking our hosts what they recommended we try off the new menu, we made our order. It was great to see our hosts be well aware of the new menu and their excitement over the new dishes they’ve surely tried and enjoyed.
I took a glance at the prices which seemed to be along the lines of the previous menu. Most dishes ranging from 20 to 70QR. The drinks remained the same though I had hoped for bigger glasses versus those two-sips-your-done they keep serving iced tea in for 24QR. At least offer refills for ice tea and fountain drinks for those cups, please. Pretty please!
We were all very pleased with our appetizers. Sahar, Dana and myself ordered varying soups and were very please with the taste, texture and portion. I could have easily been happy with a soup and salad combo, an option I’d like Roger’s to offer at a decent price.
Ahmed ordered a mixed fried appetizer dish which was pretty good, ranging from onion rings to calimari. The portion was large and easily shared amongst all 5 of us.
For our entrees, two of us ordered the new sizzling fajitas, and I mean sizzling! I ordered the mixed chicken and shrimp while Ahmed ordered the beef. My dish was very tender, flavorful and the side toppings were more than enough. However, I wish the server hadn’t uncovered my tortilla bin as they cooled down fairly quickly during the 10 or so minutes we were asked to pose for pictures.
Sahar ordered the seasoned chicken drumsticks with rice and gravy. The portion was large and very filling according to her. A dish she would order again.
Adel ordered the salmon and raved at it’s flavor. It took a while longer than the rest of our dishes to come out but he was extremely happy with his dish that my camera missed it.
Dana ordered the beef medallions with steamed vegetables topped with mushroom sauce. She stated it was tender, juicy and cooked to her liking. A dish she recommended we must try on our next visit.
For dessert, I ordered the Nutella banana crepe, Sahar ordered the Oreo fundant cake and the rest ordered the classic New York cheese cake. I was not happy with my dessert at all. The crepe itself was very doughy, the Nutella not enough spared that I didn’t finish it.
Sahar thought her cake was OK, disappointed that the melted chocolate center that was expected was really just Oreo cookie crumbs. We both thought that something needs to be added to make this Oreo cake sublime.
The rest were very happy with the cheese cakes, a dessert off the classic menu. I’ve always enjoyed the brownie a la mode and recommend it to anyone on any given day. It’s always been my favorite dessert at Roger’s and a part of me wish I had ordered it instead.
Our group had a fantastic evening and truly enjoyed our food! I really hope Roger’s fixes up those dessert recipes as it does have a lot of potential. The ambiance was friendly as always and the service was seriously at it’s best! A special shout out to our waiter Paul, whom really went over and beyond to accommodate us that evening.
We’d like to once again thank Qanect and Roger’s Diner for a lovely evening, a great new menu and the overall wonderful food! It was a delight to taste test the new offerings and can’t wait until the business lunches are rebooted!
2015 is the year I shall begin writing a few reviews a month since I’m constantly raving about the amazing eateries here in Qatar. In between reviews, I highly recommend that you check out some of my favorite Qatar based foodie bloggers, Hungry Birds Doha and Life on the Wedge… You’re welcome.
If most of you have this odd love/hate relationship with the Huffington Post as yours truly, I’m sure most of you read Lacy Morris’ latest article in HP’s Travel, 30 Things Travelers Must See and Do Before They’re 30. Aside from making me feel slightly under accomplished at 31 (Thanks a lot Lacy), I felt the urge to share my comments publicly for each of the listed items Lacy listed. I’ll only post the list (bolded) but you can click here to read Lacy’s full article.
1. Jump off something.
Right after you Lacy!!
2. See one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Accomplished! =) I’m from the great city of San Francisco so I’ve been blessed to have enjoyed some of the modern wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge amongst others on a regular basis, Alhamdulillah. (I miss you SF!) When I was 19 years old, I worked two jobs (yes that’s 2 jobs, 7 days a week!) to save and pay for my Mama and I to go to Egypt in April of 2001 where I experienced the longest surviving wonder of the world, the Pyramids of Giza. I went again in 2011 after the revolution and experienced history in the making… another world wonder in my book.
3. Party in Las Vegas.
Unless you’re paying for it Lacy, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on a slice of Sin City.
4. Take a vacation that isn’t Spring Break.
Accomplished! Never did a Spring Break type deal so my trip to Egypt (see number 2) counts.
5. Attend at least one large celebration.
Accomplished! Every year I attend Ramadan gatherings and Eid prayers. Trust me, it’s a fabulous celebration with clothed, sober people! I invite you Lacy to join us in SF when I return for a visit from Qatar to celebrate Eid! (You’re also welcome to experience Qatar and add it to your list!)
6. Hit up a nude beach. I laughed to tears at this number! One, I’m from San Francisco, home of Baker Beach and never even considered checking that nudity out. Two, I’m a happily covered-up Muslim so the idea of going out without my hijab, let alone naked is extremely laughable.
7. Spend several days with only what will fit in a backpack. Lacy, let’s hear about your days with only what will fit in your backpack.
8. Swim in the ocean.
I can’t swim but I’ve visited several beaches during my travels so… semi-accomplished!
9. Sleep somewhere where you have to light a fire to stay warm.
Lacy, YOU sleep somewhere where you have to light a fire to stay warm!
10. Do some sort of adrenaline sport.
I moved to another country at 30 on my own dime… doesn’t that count Lacy?
11. Hit up one of the Caribbean islands.
Are you going to pay for Lacy? If so, let’s go and it can be “31 things I can do before I’m 32!”
12. Take one ultimate road trip.
Accomplished! I’ve done several road trips from SF to LA and back, the last one being when I was 29. When I was 24, along with my Mama and sister, we road tripped from NY to the Carolinas and back. I do not recommend anyone to do that drive… ever!
13. Go somewhere alone.
Accomplished! My first flight alone was a training in Michigan at 20 then getting paid through my freelance work throughout California and parts of the US before I traveled and moved to the Middle East. I emphasize that those trips within the US were paid for by a third party otherwise I wouldn’t have ever been able to afford it as a college student. I doubt anyone under 30 can travel alone without a friend who can at least help split the costs of hotels and food.
14. Take a train somewhere.
I’d like to take the Trans-Siberian Railway (across Russia) like in Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. Let’s go Lacy, your treat! 😉
15. Go to a music festival.
I love music and have organized a few concerts but I’ve had dumb drunk people ruin one too many shows for me. You want me to go to a music festival where drunkenness is encouraged? No thanks!
16. Have one iconic Americana experience.
I’m a Muslim Arab American whom has traveled through USA airports… if that ain’t enough “Americana” experience then what the hell is?
17. Go to at least one of the Smithsonian museums.
Now that’s on my list but I haven’t set a age deadline for it.
18. Summit a mountain.
San Francisco Twin Peaks, that should count… and I know how to get myself back down too!
19. Be able to name your top five dream vacations.
Wait, I thought this was a list of travel experiences we should have accomplished before 30, not draft them out. I’m confused Lacy…
20. See a game at a classic ballpark.
San Francisco turned the classic Candlestick Park into Monster Park (a football field) before I could afford to start going to cheer on my world champs, the SF Giants.
21. Visit a neighbor to our north or south.
Yea I would’ve, really, but no one wanted to pay for it.
22. Do something so adventurous that it requires a doctor’s visit.
Accomplished! Took my Hep C shots at 19 before my trip to Egypt. (How sad is that?)
23. Save pennies to go somewhere you really want to go.
FYI Lacy, it cost more than 200 pennies to go down the street.
24. Go to New York City.
Semi-Accomplished! I have family in New Jersey and NY’s Staten Island so we’ve done the ferry rides and walked some parts of Manhattan. I have yet to stand in the middle of Time Square or eat from NY’s famed Halal Food Trucks/Carts. I did bus it between Brooklyn and Staten Island, but no subway rides.
25. Sleep under the stars.
Never done it but during trips to NJ, my grandparents had a nice front lawn where we gathered during those hot summer nights over good conversation and star gazed before the mosquitoes kicked us out.
26. Eat an iconic city meal.
I’m from San Francisco… all the iconic meals come to us damn it!
27. Know all of the best places to take tourists in your home city.
Accomplished! One place tourists should go to in San Francisco aside from the 49 mile scenic drive is a small lovely corner in the heart of the city called Maiden Lane where some really nice spots to eat are located! You’re welcome Lacy!!
28. Have one close encounter with a wild animal.
I have three brothers, one sister and 3 cats split between two countries… that’s enough wild animal encounters for me.
29. Do something you can’t tell your parents about.
No comment… my Mama reads this! =P
30. Know a dance well enough that you could keep up with the locals.
Accomplished! When I was in fifth grade, I was part of the cultural dance troupe where I learned Chinese Ribbon Dancing, Irish Celtic Step Dance and traditional East African Tribal Dances to name a few… I still carry and remember everything I learned in that troupe to this day… best year of my elementary life!
I just made a really yummy and simple dinner!! Penne pasta in a fresh tomato basil sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms and green onions. Very simple to make, very delicious to eat!
Here’s how simple it is…
I started with a pound of mini penne pasta in boiling water with a bit of salt, saving a cup of the water before draining the pasta. The salt and starch from the pasta helps make the sauce nice and thick.
For the sauce, I started with a bit of butter and olive oil, cooked a chopped tomato until it softened. Then I added a canned tomato sauce and the pasta water. As the sauce simmered, I added about a tablespoon of fresh chopped basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of dried cilantro, thyme and cumin. About ten minutes in, I added about a teaspoon of cream cheese to make the sauce creamy.
Then I brought the pasta and the sauce together and let it cook on low heat.
In a small sauce pan, I put a really small piece of butter to saute about six decently sized mushrooms, chopped in nice slices. As the mushrooms shrank, I added one chopped green onion. Then added salt, pepper and cumin to taste.
Served my pasta, topped it with the mushrooms and ate to my heart’s delight!